Sounds Like: Grown-man anthems for an age where hip-hop is our pop
For Fans of: Stromae, Janelle Monáe, Outkast's Stankonia
Why You Should Pay Attention: Jidenna is the first signee that Janelle Monáe introduced from her revamped Epic Records imprint, Wondaland Records. He's the featured rapper swooning over a lady doing downward dog in her new song, "Yoga." Jidenna's debut single, "Classic Man" takes cues from his international travels: The lilting "oh me, oh my"'s reference the West African highlife music he grew up hearing in Nigeria, before he discovered Heavy D in the States; the sparse mix of chants and 808s were inspired by the near-decade that he spent in the Bay Area, before DJ Mustard emerged to further shape the region's hip-hop sound. Both "Yoga" and "Classic Man" appear on the compilation EP WondalandPresents: The Eephus, out June 23rd.
He Says: The Alan Ferguson-directed "Classic Man" video starts with Jidenna talking policemen out of arresting two young boys, before he joins Monáe at a speakeasy-inspired venue to jam. "I, myself, have been scrutinized by militarized police, but I know officers who actually handle themselves in a certain way that makes me feel safe," he says. "These are officers like the one in the video, who are willing to work with community members. I wanted to show a moment where an officer and a citizen can talk it out, and with some black and latino youth. It was a show of cooperation that didn't involve violence or snitching. I've seen that, and I've done that, and I wanted to show it."
Hear for Yourself: Though Jidenna wears a three-piece suit in the video, the party anthem "Classic Man" is far from stuffy. Christina Lee